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Really Really Dumb Question


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How much difference do tires actually make? I just came back from the SoCal canyons, and put as much lean in as I thought I could get away with. But looking at videos of others doing those same roads, they are leaned way more and seem more planted with similar entries. I'm wondering if its because of my very old/worn tires or not.

 

Is this just newbie driving? old tires? lack of confidence?

I don't have a point of comparison for tires on motorcycles, do they affect lean angle that much?

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Hey Warthog,

 

It is difficult to answer your question specifically without quite a bit more information but I will venture a comment or two. First, if you are riding on worn out tires that is a problem that you should address ASAP, especially if you are riding aggressively.

 

Now for a more general statement If you are riding on modern, name brand tires, properly maintained, and in good condition I would say the odds are that rider education and ability make up the vast majority of the difference in performance you are seeing.

 

Do tires matter? Absolutely, but just like the rest of a modern sportbike you have to know how to exploit their abilities. They are not a "magic bullet". My advice is to treat your bike to some new shoes for safety's sake and yourself to some quality coaching to get your riding where you want it.

 

Best,

Carey

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Hi Warthog,

 

That's not a dumb question at all. Tires do make a big difference. For example I have used a touring tyre on the rear of my bike for commuting, I had it sitting around for a while so it was old, definitely not in the best condition. Riding in the dry it always felt like I was riding on a wet road whenever I tipped into a corner. Compared to a new sports tire that just felt normal, there was a big difference.

 

But in your case of wondering how much lean you can use, I'm not sure that tires are playing quite as much of a role as you may think. Consider this - if you are wondering how much lean angle you can use on your current tyres, would changing to a track-oriented tire or slick tires change that? My suggestion would be that the uncertainty is caused by a lack of confidence which could be improved through rider training (knowing that you're making all the right inputs, and none of the wrong ones goes a long way towards helping) and gaining a better understanding of traction.

 

If you can make it to CSS, doing the School will make a big difference to your cornering confidence. I definitely experienced that myself and I'm sure many others here will say the same. In the mean time there's an interesting thread here on the subject of learning to trust your tires: http://forums.superbikeschool.com/index.php?showtopic=3438&st=0

I also make a post there where I mentioned some things that have helped my cornering confidence: http://forums.superbikeschool.com/index.php?showtopic=3438&view=findpost&p=27968

 

If you do have old tires that have started to show that oily look on the surface, you could try sanding them back a little, but depending on how far spread that look is they could be toast and it could be very risky to ride on them. If your tires are down on the wear indicators you should really replace them as well, especially for street riding as your wet weather traction will be severely compromised (not to mention you could get a vehicle defect ticket for that).

 

I hope that helps a bit. Stick around and keep asking questions!

 

Cheers,

 

Conrad

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Thanks all.

 

I guess my thinking is that with limited funds, I should maximize the low-hanging fruit- get to/near the limits of the tires before upgrading, get near my unassisted street limits before coaching, etc...

 

If I'm truly being held back by my tires (or just need to feel a different set), I'll do it. I just don't want to be one of those guys who is equipment dependent- "needs" the latest, greatest, big-buck gear/method to "go fast", but gets smoked by a much less capable bike ridden by a half-decent rider.

 

I know the truly fast will smoke me on whatever, but I remember doing closed-course auto racing and hearing guys brag on their modded Mustangs/Z350s/etc... and then trying to get them to hold a line while passing them in a stock Civic.

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...I guess my thinking is that with limited funds, I should maximize the low-hanging fruit- get to/near the limits of the tires before upgrading, get near my unassisted street limits before coaching, etc...

 

I know what you are saying however I would recommend you spend the money on education first. If you are getting near the limit of traction for the wrong reasons you aren't doing yourself any favors. Have you seen any of the rnickymouse videos on youtube? Over and over again you will see bikes going down in situations where they should be no where near the limits of their capibility...but they are beyond the capability of their pilots. You have to fix the nut that connects the handlebars to the seat first (I know I'm still working on mine :D ).

 

We see it posted time and time again here "I wish I had taken CSS sooner!". I know that was the first thing I said after my level 1 class. And just look at the progression Will's daughter has made in 4 classes!

 

Good luck and ride safe!

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Please ignore this, I posted it into the wrong thread...must have forgot my meds :blink: .

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Hey Warthog,

 

I do get what you're saying about finding your limits before you go for coaching, but Carey makes some good points there. Actually that's pretty much exactly what I did, I went for years without any proper training. But that can work against you, because as a new rider you're likely at the stage where you don't know what you don't know (if that makes sense). At least that's how I was! Then I started to do some other types of rider training and slowly got a better picture of the things I still didn't know about. CSS was the most recent training I took, that was earlier this year and it's made the biggest difference, probably more than the other 4 or 5 other training days with other organisations combined!

 

Also if you have training early on you'll be getting a good base to build on. Much less chance that bad habits will develop. I like to think of it this way - say you know a guy who has been riding for 20 years, but has never had any training and has some pretty bad habits and regularly puts himself in danger. Some people would say that he has 20 years of riding experience. I wouldn't. The way I see it, that person has 20 years of bad experience.

 

Basically if you can make a bike go forwards, stop, and can turn it left and right, you qualify for CSS! I think you would be quite impressed with the noticeable and immediate improvement in your riding. It's definitely a worthy goal to aim for. smile.gif

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I guess my thinking is that with limited funds, I should maximize the low-hanging fruit- get to/near the limits of the tires before upgrading, get near my unassisted street limits before coaching, etc...

 

If I'm truly being held back by my tires (or just need to feel a different set), I'll do it. I just don't want to be one of those guys who is equipment dependent- "needs" the latest, greatest, big-buck gear/method to "go fast", but gets smoked by a much less capable bike ridden by a half-decent rider.

In my opinion, you are combining two very different subjects. Tires and training.

 

Worn tires are worn tires. If you're worn down to (or beyond) the wear bars you should replace your tires. You don't have to replace them with expensive race tires (Diablo Supercorsa for example). There are many good choices near the $200 price point which will give you a good combination of performance and mileage and are suitable for street use and occasional track use. The Dunlop Sportmax Qualifier II (aka the Q2) is a decent example.

 

Good training can be, almost certainly will be, invaluable to your riding, so why wait? Wouldn't it be better to receive good training and then based on that training go out to refine your skills? As Carey noted, we see it posted time and again, myself included, "I wish I had taken CSS sooner!" I was one of those guys street riding for over 20 years before I finally trained with CSS and I left the first session feeling as though I was just finally learning how to ride. How much you can afford certainly is a reasonable consideration (or understandable limitation), but I think trying to figure out "street limits" on your own usually is not the best method for success.

 

Dylan and I had a similar discussion at NOLA in May, and I like the thoughts behind his analogy... We don't hand our [recruit] Marines a rifle, send them out to patrol a month or two, then give them basic marksmanship training, send them back out to patrol again, then give them patrolling training... Yet we seem to use this method for many of our new motorcycle riders. They buy a motorcycle, we tell them to ride for a month or two, they take the Basic MSF course, we tell them to ride for a month or two, then they take the next level MSF course... To keep it simple: it's better to train first and then apply trained skills; not to just "see how it works out" and then train sometime later.

 

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Hi WH,

 

Finding the limits with worn tires, pretty much never worth it.

 

Training will let you do that with control, rather than guessing.

 

I tossed my first bike down the road due to worn tires...hence my opinion that letting the tires get too warn is just not worth it. Heck, if you get them from us, we have smoking deals (only availalbe to students or people that are signed up).

 

Single biggest factor in traction regarding the bike, is the tires.

 

OK, that's my sales pitch for both :).

 

Best,

Cobie

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Well, definitely need new tires after tonight. Trying out some tips from the boards, remembered stuff from past experience. Churning along, being faster than before but not super aggressive, starting to add throttle in turns, getting more lean, feeling a little slip.

 

Going around one right-hander, add throttle and SLIDDDDDEEEEEE to the left. Fortunately, no oncoming traffic. After pulling over and checking the tires, find the 2" "chicken strip" on both tires is near gone, the rear only has 1/2" or so left, but its flat with the sidewall; the front is all gone and the edges are looking kinda toasty. Got it back OK, but needless to say the trip back was a lot gentler!

 

Now I'm checking out tires- thinking Roadsmart II or Q2s in 120/60-17 and 160/60-17. Still tossing sizes vs compounds around in my head.

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Well, definitely need new tires after tonight. Trying out some tips from the boards, remembered stuff from past experience. Churning along, being faster than before but not super aggressive, starting to add throttle in turns, getting more lean, feeling a little slip.

 

Going around one right-hander, add throttle and SLIDDDDDEEEEEE to the left. Fortunately, no oncoming traffic. After pulling over and checking the tires, find the 2" "chicken strip" on both tires is near gone, the rear only has 1/2" or so left, but its flat with the sidewall; the front is all gone and the edges are looking kinda toasty. Got it back OK, but needless to say the trip back was a lot gentler!

 

Now I'm checking out tires- thinking Roadsmart II or Q2s in 120/60-17 and 160/60-17. Still tossing sizes vs compounds around in my head.

Sounds like tires will be a good change. All I've read indicates the Q2 will be better for drier conditions and is also more aggressive; the Roadsmart will be better for frequent wet conditions. Also, I'd consider going to a 120/70 front tire. They are cheaper by $20-$30 from what I've seen. The 120/70 might slow your turn-in just a bit, depending on what tire profile you're switching from, but I've not read any complaints about the change.

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Brad:

Not sure about sizes. The stock sizes are 110/70-17 and 150/70-17, but the best Dunlop available is the older GT501. I know a lot of guys use a 160/60-17 rear OK, but not sure about the front with the skinny 3" rim. If I don't go the 120/60-17 route for the Q2s, I'll probably throw on Diablo Rosso IIs as they are seem to be the highest-performing street tire available in the stock sizes.

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I just want to add that the slides you experienced didn't come from worn tyres since you've never leaned that far before and hence the rubber that met the road was virgin. They may have been old and hard, of course, and putting on a new set is cheaper than fixing bike and body after a spill in any case :)

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Brad:

Not sure about sizes. The stock sizes are 110/70-17 and 150/70-17, but the best Dunlop available is the older GT501. I know a lot of guys use a 160/60-17 rear OK, but not sure about the front with the skinny 3" rim. If I don't go the 120/60-17 route for the Q2s, I'll probably throw on Diablo Rosso IIs as they are seem to be the highest-performing street tire available in the stock sizes.

The concensus I've seen from the SV650 guys (your's is an SV650 right?) is 120/70 and 160/60. 170 and 180 rears are generally acknowledged as "too hard to do" in stock configurations. The 120/60 front also is noted as being fine, but a quick price check still shows they are ~20% more expensive. I had my SV650 so long ago that now I can't recall what tires I used...

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Brad- 1st gen bandit 600. THe later bandits and SVs have a wider 3.5" rim, thus my problem with the 3" rim.

Ah, please pardon my mistake... don't know where I came up with SV650... :unsure:

 

1st gen Bandit 600... I rode one of those for a while in the mid-90's. It was a great commuter bike; never did attempt any spirited riding on it though.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Well, took the bike out after getting the new rubber on. Pirelli Rosso IIs, 110/70-17 and 160/60-17. A lot stickier than the old ones, had to tighten up the lines b/c I wasn't slipping into turns anymore. Noticed the 60 series feels like a very round tire & need more muscle to turn it in. Oh well, other than that, feels very good.

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